With so many business and lifestyle advancements underway in our region, now is an especially exciting time to be moving to Greater Gainesville. For those on a career track, we offer a multitude of opportunities to grow professionally with great companies. For entrepreneurs, we offer nurturing and proven incubation opportunities. For the many others who may be looking for big city amenities without a big-city address, Greater Gainesville offers sophisticated cultural amenities, five-star cuisine, world-class healthcare, and excellent cradle-to-career education options. Not to mention that our beautiful natural environment and spirit of inclusivity are unmatched..Yet despite all of the attributes that make Greater Gainesville a great prospect for anyone seeking a new home for any reason, our region joins countless others facing the challenge of accommodating dual career families, sometimes referred to as the “trailing spouses/partners.” Combined with the unavoidable logistical complexities and overall adjustments that come with moving, the strain of having to manage responsibilities—including caring for children, managing the home, and bearing the financial burden of running two households— alone in a new city for an extended time period can take a heavy toll on the professional new to the region as well as the partner that remains behind, waiting for an opportunity to seize.

For many families this is a reality. In a university-oriented city such as Gainesville, dual career couples account for more than 68 percent of the general workforce and 72 percent of academia. On an almost daily basis, I meet or interact with people who have moved to Greater Gainesville in the last decade. And though nearly all of them report being glad to have made the move, many of them recount having to commute between Greater Gainesville and other cities and regions for a year or longer before their partner was able to secure an opportunity that allowed their families to reunite.

Employers are also affected by the dual-career issue. In independent, confidential studies analyzing factors influencing failed faculty recruitment, two major U.S. research institutions found that partner employment ranked among the top two in lists that included salary, housing costs and 15 other factors. The Workforce Mobility Association (Worldwide ERC), estimates the amount spent annually in the U.S. on corporate relocation by member corporations at $12.2 billion. In her report, “The Dual- Career Conundrum: Holistic Hiring – More Matters,” Tech Valley Connect President Angela McNerney says that “in academia, reports vary, but most put the cost of losing a faculty hire within the first three years, minimally at two times the employee’s salary.”

When I think of the opportunity Greater Gainesville is on the cusp of realizing, I feel great excitement – The Chamber is working to facilitate the creation of 3,500 new jobs before 2020. The University of Florida is progressing toward preeminence, and the Envision Alachua Sector Plan, if approved next year by the County Commission, will create the opportunity to accommodate 4,000 to 6,000 jobs in coming years. These examples represent only two of many that could necessitate out-of-area recruitment. But I also feel a great sense of responsibility to ensure we succeed in helping the business community facilitate opportunities for dual career couples. Though many of the jobs created in our region will likely be filled by existing Greater Gainesville residents, in the majority of instances in which talent must be recruited from other locations, the people who are recruited will face dual-career decisions.

Fortunately, in 2014, after years of discussion among the business community – CareerSource North Central Florida, the University of Florida, Santa Fe College, Innovation Gainesville advocates and others – about the need for a formal, consistent answer to the dual career conundrum, the Board of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce created the Chamber’s Dual Career Partner and Relocation Support Network. A fee-for-service, employer-sponsored program, the program connects dual career partners with career, practical and emotional support. The program reduces the time, cost and frequency of hiring by providing a single point of contact for individuals before and during their transition to our area. The newly hired employee will know that while he or she is getting settled in their new job, his/her family has dedicated community resources to support their transition. By providing these types of support to out-of-area candidates, the program also improves employee retention and productivity rates.

The Dual Career Partner and Relocation Support Network also can positively affect companies that may not be paying participants. Chamber members, of whom 80 percent are small businesses, as well as other businesses will gain access to a stream of talented people who may be following a partner recruited by a member of the network.

As a component of the suite of initiatives the Chamber is spearheading – including the Alachua County Education Compact, the Transforming Greater Gainesville Branding Initiative and more – the Dual Career Partner and Relocation Support Network is designed to lay a foundation for families to move to this region and build lives on. Bolstered by the welcoming spirit Greater Gainesville is known for, I see talent and recruiting success in our future.

The Chamber’s vision of Greater Gainesville as a global hub of talent, innovation and opportunity includes your business. If your company frequently recruits out-of-area candidates, or has near-term hiring plans, reach out to your chamber.

As always, I encourage you to come join us as we work to facilitate economic prosperity, business growth and community progress. We’ll save a seat at the table for you.

Contact Nancy Halbrook, Manager, Dual Career Partner and Relocation Support Network to find out what it can do for your business. Nancy can be reached at [email protected] or visit www.dualcareerpartner.com

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